Books are a big deal in Barcelona, and to see that for yourself just visit Barcelona on April 23rd. That’s the Day of Saint George, when Catalan tradition says you need to give a red rose to your loved one and they’ll give you a book in return. Almost a million books are sold in Catalonia on that day, which shows the incredible respect and care that Catalans have for books (and roses).
Books sell during the rest of the year as well, of course, and below you'll find some of my favorite bookshops (called librerias in Spain), which I've chosen for the selection of titles they carry, their location, or the weight of history you can feel inside their walls. Almost every bookstore carries original literature in French and English; bestsellers in Barcelona tend to be titles about cooking and (right now, thanks to the political process going on in the country) politics.
This is my favorite bookshop in Barcelona. It’s not a franchise, it’s not big, and you won't find it unless you're looking for it; but its selection, its decór, and its restaurant are three big reasons to seek it out. The titles are well chosen; the interiors are classic and well lit; and the restaurant serves excellent breakfasts and lunches and great coffee.
Negra y Criminal
This very small, very secretive bookshop carries only noir literature from all over the world. The owner is an enthusiast of the genre, and if you ask, he’ll give you a private tour of what's on the shelves. Check the website before going there, since he keeps rather curious business hours.
Are you coming to Barcelona with your children? Then this marvelous bookshop is the place you want to visit. As well as shelves full of illustrated kids' books (in English, French, Spanish, Catalan or German), this shop has a playground area, stickers, toys and plenty of other amusements need for your little ones to enjoy themselves.
This bookstore makes you feel like a reader even before you've entered. I love their selection, the look of the shop (it's always crowded but quiet, with lots of loyal clients) and the vibe of the owners—who you can tell love their job, and who pass on their literary enthusiasm to visitors.
This bookshop defines itself in a very funny way: as "the bookshop specializing in books." You can find poetry, essays, and lots of work from small presses that the big bookstore chains never carry. But in my opinion the best aspect of the shop is the space itself: the walls, tables, paintings, and other design details all reveal that books are considered very precious here.